More than 2,000 flying foxes have died at Casino at the weekend from the heatwave which hit the Richmond Valley.
The 42-degree temperatures yesterday and today (Sunday) played havoc with the flying-fox camp at Casino with thousands of dead bats picked up by Richmond Valley Council officers along the riverbank and in the Hickey and Barker streets area, as well as on the roadway.
WIRES volunteers are also on site and are attempting to deal with the young flying foxes in the first instance.
Council’s general manager John Walker said the extreme heat was a tragedy for the bats.
Mr Walker said it was likely council crews would continue the collection of dead bats over the coming week, which may extend into private property.
He said there were still large numbers dead in trees, but out of the reach of council crews.
‘Whatever anyone’s opinion is either side of the bat debate, no one wishes this sort of tragedy on the bats,’ Mr Walker said.
‘It just goes to show the extent and intensity of the heatwave we had over the weekend. Bats don’t know how to deal with the heat.’
Mr Walker said while council officers were acting as quickly as possible to remove the dead bats, residents were advised to stay clear of the work site until all dead bats were taken away.
He said council crews were having difficulty accessing some areas of the riverbank and unfortunately this meant there may be an unpleasant odour for a while.
He said council’s environmental health officers would continue to monitor the site.
‘Some areas along the riverbank are inaccessible and the stench from the rotting carcasses will be quite unbearable for some time yet,’ Mr Walker said.
Mr Walker said people should avoid the area and not try to help living bats themselves as they could bite and scratch and some carry the lyssavirus.
He said parents and teachers needed to be especially vigilant to ensure children remained safe.
‘Young children could be attracted to the bats on the ground but there could be serious health risks if they pick them up,’ Mr Walker said.